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Erasmus – helping young Europeans get the skills they need - 03/02/2012

Since 1987, almost 3 million have studied or trained abroad on an Erasmus exchange.

Young people are particularly hard hit by the economic crisis and rising unemployment. At a recent European summit in January, EU leaders promised action to improve their job prospects.

Erasmus helps by encouraging students to get out into world and see what is available in other countries. They can spend some time abroad, learn another language, and demonstrate adaptability – all things that help to give them a competitive advantage on the jobs market.

Changing lives and broading horizons

Erasmus is one of the EU's biggest successes. In 2011, a quarter of a million young people went to study or train in another country on an Erasmus exchange. The programme is also open to lecturers, which helps improve the quality of higher education in Europe.

Events are being held to celebrate Erasmus's anniversary throughout Europe - starting with the conference held earlier this week in Brussels on the theme "Erasmus: changing lives and opening minds for 25 years".

In each of the 33 Erasmus countries, two Erasmus ambassadors have been appointed - one student and one lecturer or other staff member whose professional and private lives have been enriched by their Erasmus experience.

One of them is Tomás, a Spanish computer engineer who spent a year at a Finnish university, completed his PhD in Asia, and then went to work in the UK

Former UK language student Kate Samways reckons her employability went up tenfold after her Erasmus placements - teaching English at a French IT institute for people with disabilities and studying in Venice. She's now making a career in journalism.

The future of Erasmus

The number of people taking part in Erasmus gets bigger every year. It is the most popular university exchange programme anywhere in the world.

The Commission has recently proposed a new programme "Erasmus for all" (2014-20). The programme would bring together all the current EU and international schemes for education, training, youth and sport. As many as 5 million people could benefit.

More about the Erasmus programme

Meet the Erasmus ambassadors

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